Activism&Anti-consumerism26 Nov 2005 01:05 am

Today is British Buy Nothing Day. Enjoy!

Activism&Corporate&South Asia29 Sep 2005 03:03 pm

India is on strike in protest at its government’s privatisation plans.

Good luck, people. You will need it.

“जीवन का अर्थ ही क्या रह जाएगा यदि हम में सतत प्रयत्न करने का साहस न रहे।”
– विन्सेंट वान गौह

Activism&Environment&Global politics21 Sep 2005 06:42 pm

Just a reminder that tomorrow is World Car Free Day.

The site I’ve linked to is a European one, but my Canadian Adbusters calendar says “WORLD CAR FREE DAY” on it, and that’s good enough for me.

Anyone who gets the bus tomorrow gets a sugar-free lollipop.

(Oh hang on, that’s not right. That’s anyone under 12 who goes to the dentist.)

OK, you don’t get a lollipop, but you get to feel mildly virtuous for the day, if you’re normally a petrolhead.

Anyway, report back here if you are car-free on Thursday 22 September. That includes those without personal transport or driving licence. If anyone deserves a lollipop, YOU do.

Activism&Global politics06 Jul 2005 06:52 pm

Entire world screeches to terrified halt as protestors wander off somewhere on the spur of the moment.


Soundtrack to this post: Embassy Row – Pavement

Activism&Global politics05 Jul 2005 07:30 pm

If you’re heading for the G8 protests…

… be prepared for a heavy police presence, in full riot gear, enjoying the opportunity to flex armour-plated muscles.

And expect to be filmed leaving all public transport to and from Scotland.

(London protest photos courtesy of Justimage on Indymedia)

Soundtrack to this post: Showdown – Britney Spears

Activism&Africa&Global politics&Pop culture03 Jul 2005 12:51 pm

No, sorry. I can’t just leave it.

Did any of you see Madonna’s performance? Did any of you watch Geldof’s bit before that? Without vomiting your spleen into your lap?

In case you were mercifully elsewhere, here’s what happened. Bob Geldof went into a foggy rant along the lines of “DON’T LET ANYONE TELL YOU THIS DOESN’T WORK”. Then an enormous picture of a starving Ethiopian child appeared on the screens. Then Bob says “This girl was 10 minutes from death when this shot was filmed” – leaving aside all questions of whether it would be considered appropriate to film children 10 minutes from death if they weren’t brown – and then shouts “BUT BECAUSE OF LIVE AID, SHE SURVIVED! AND HERE SHE IS NOW!”

And on walks a beautiful fully grown woman with an expensive hairdo and perfect makeup, and everyone cheers, because WE DID THAT! We saved the pretty lady! We Westerners, with our benevolent rich rock stars and kind hearts, we who were prepared to sacrifice a whole day of our lives to watch a rock concert and perhaps give a few quid out of our beer budget! We, who wear matching wristbands and are polite enough not to question the inexplicable participation of pensionable dullards like Annie Lennox, Sting, Pink Floyd and The Who, are saving lives! We are, quite frankly, heroes! Go us! Go us!

And then Madonna walks on, snogs poor Birhan Woldu – for this is she – and feigns tears of self-congratulatory joy. And grabs Birhan’s hand, and punches it triumphantly into the air. Never one to miss a front page opportunity, she does this for quite some time.

I cannot find words to do justice to the offensiveness of this spectacle.

From the parts of Live 8 which I saw, I didn’t hear a single person on any stage mention the reasons Africa is impoverished. Not one. From watching this show, you’d think that global economics pivoted on the willingness of ageing prog rockers to reform.

As ever, RedOne and Gerry neatly sum up the tragedy of Geldof and Bono co-opting the G8 protests. If it hadn’t been for this flamboyant point-missing exercise, the rumble of very real G8-based dissent seen a few months ago may have built into an epoch-defining roar.

And if that’s not a good enough motive for Blair et al to hold hands with Geldof and Bono and support their impotent efforts, I don’t know what is.

I’ll leave you with a nice quote from Robert Newman:

Q: If you could talk directly to a room full of G8 leaders, what would you say?

A: “Here are your Guatemala work visas, we will come and pick you up from the Dole/Chiquita banana plantation in a year’s time, by which point your views about capitalism may have altered enough for us to have a sensible discussion.”

Soundtrack to this post: Grasping Claw – Headset

Activism&Africa&Global politics&Pop culture01 Jul 2005 07:52 pm

“The countdown to Live 8 continues”

If your idea of top quality entertainment is white male middle-aged millionaires playing guitars, you’re in for a treat tomorrow night.

I’ve said enough on the subject, so I’ll leave the cringeworthy, misguided event to speak for itself.

Soundtrack to this post: Rock Is Dead – Marilyn Manson

Activism&Africa&British politics&Global politics&News media&Pop culture20 Jun 2005 07:52 pm

I’m a busy, tired, cynical fox today. This is not so much a post as an attempt to convey an eye-rolling “Hmph” in three needlessly wordy paragraphs.

Fact 1:
In 1985, Bob Geldof’s Live Aid raised £40m for famine relief in Africa, half of which was spent on long term development plans. By Geldof’s own admission, Africa has become even poorer over the intervening two decades. So here comes Live 8, jumping alongside the campaign to ‘Make Poverty History’.

Question: Do you think this self-congratulatory dadrock-fest will change world leaders’ minds about their policies towards Africa, or will they use it as an excuse to applaud themselves about a few paltry figleaf changes (e.g. doubling aid) while ignoring the actual reasons why Africa is impoverished (e.g. the IMF’s demands, the World Bank, the double standards of one-sided ‘free’ trade)?

Fact 2:
Tony Blair wears a white wristband (or, as the hilariously ultra-conservative Telegraph puts it, a “bangle”). He started wearing this – complete with subtly shortened jacket sleeve – in the run-up to the election. Naturally. All in all, he is making a sustained effort to draw attention to his part in this expertly choreographed campaign.

Question: Do you think Tony Blair has any incentive to argue (or intention of arguing) for 100% of African debt to be dropped?

Fact 3:
Bono, a man so ferociously egomaniacal he is prepared to incur the financial and environmental cost of flying a hat to Italy in first class, has also lent his name to the cause.

Question: Would Blair, Bush etc be so eager to trade positive publicity opportunities with this multi-millionaire businessman if his involvement was genuinely subversive and radical?

Soundtrack to this post: Pull Up The People – M.I.A.

Activism&Audience participation&Burma&Human rights&South Asia03 Jun 2005 12:07 pm

If you have a spare birthday card – or notelet, or postcard, or can knock one up yourself – please consider sending it to Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma. For more information on Aung San Suu Kyi and the Burma campaign, please have a quick look here.

My card cost 68p to post and the card itself was 50p, so not a large investment. But it’s important that the world is seen to be watching Aung San Suu Kyi, and this might be a good way to do that. Little tactical actions like this are sometimes the most useful.

I’ll cut and paste the original campaign request, rather than paraphrase the whole thing. Here’s why I’m asking:


Action Request – please forward to friends and colleagues.

On Sunday 19th June is the 60th Birthday of Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of Burma’s democracy movement. On that day she will have spent a total of 9 years and 238 days in detention. Armed soldiers behind a barricade of barbed wire turn away any visitors. The regime has also cut her phone line, so no-one can call to wish her happy birthday.

The brutal generals who rule Burma have already made one attempt on her life, attacking a convoy she was travelling in on May 30th 2003. Up to 100 of her supporters were beaten to death in the attack. Aung San Suu Kyi’s car managed to speed away, but she was later arrested.

The regime are doing everything they can to isolate Aung San Suu Kyi.
They want the world to forget about her. They fear her popularity. She is the main threat to their continuing rule, and there are growing fears for her safety.

Please send a birthday card to Aung San Suu Kyi. Although the card is
likely to be intercepted by the regime, thousands of cards arriving will send a powerful message to the regime. If they know the world is watching, it will make it less likely that they will take action against Aung San Suu Kyi, as they will fear the international reaction. Your card will help keep her safe from further attacks.

Send your card to:

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi
54 University Avenue
Bahan 11201
Myanmar (Burma)

Please forward this message to friends and colleagues.

This action is part of a global campaign to free Aung San Suu Kyi. For more information visit:”>Burma Campaign.

To stay in touch with the campaign, join our email network. Send a blank email to”

Activism&Pop culture25 Apr 2005 07:36 pm

This week is TV Turnoff Week, when TV addicts go cold turkey (click grainy lo-fi picture above for proper details).

Don’t be startled by the idea of a week without the gogglebox. Other things you could do with your leisure time this week include:

  1. Meeting friends
  2. Inviting friends round to your place
  3. Reading a book
  4. Writing a blog post
  5. Painting a wall
  6. Baking a cake
  7. Going for a run
  8. Taking up a musical instrument
  9. Clearing out that cupboard/loft/shed and selling all the unwanted tat on eBay
  10. Devising an anti-establishment plot and recruiting volunteers from your local pub*

(* just my little joke, Officer)

The possibilities, quite literally, are endless. As the theme tune of shambolic 1970s British children’s programme ‘Why Don’t You’ implored us: “why don’t you just switch off your television set and go out and do something less boring instead?” (I wonder if anybody at the BBC noticed the irony of this anti-passivity message coming from a TV show. Hmm.)

Enjoy your week!

+ and here’s a Guardian story about the TV Turnoff project +

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